Regime Change Crowd Call for Harsher Measures on Syria
February 28, 2012 • 8:41AM

As the Syrians voted to usher in a new Constitution that would end the one-party rule of the Ba'ath Party, the anti-al-Assad regime change crowd crowed for harsher measures. European foreign ministers at a meeting at Brussels on Feb. 27 declared they would freeze the assets of several Syrian government officials and impose sanctions on the country's central bank. They also banned the purchase of gold, precious metals and diamonds from the country, and banned Syrian cargo flights from the European Union. The EU had previously imposed several rounds of sanctions on Syria. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said, "it will not be enough, of course, but it is a new step."

Juppé, speaking during a break in talks among EU foreign ministers, said "I will say this afternoon in Geneva [on the eve of the meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission] that I hope to see the international community reflect on the conditions of a referral to the ICC," he said. "This is a difficult dossier," he said, adding that as Syria was not a party to the Rome Convention establishing the International Criminal Court, the ICC could not initiate action itself.

From Oslo, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said the international community should provide arms to Syria's opposition and Arab countries should take the lead in providing a safe haven for rebels inside Syria. "I think we should do whatever is necessary to help them, including giving them weapons to defend themselves," the prime minister said.

The "them" that Jassim al-Thani referred to in his statement, however, have split again. Latest reports indicate the Syrian National Council, which just hosted a conference in Tunis, has split, and a new Syrian Patriotic Front has emerged. Neither the stripe nor the nature of this new entity, which issued statements in favor of armed struggle, has been made clear yet.